December 11, 2001

Subject: Our Lady - in support of
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2001 16:21:02 -0800 (PST)
From: Yolanda Rael

Hi Alma,

I read about your piece "Our Lady" in Ms. Magazine, August/September 2001.

As a young woman from Northern New Mexico, I LOVE your piece. On your website, I read Jose Villegas' email to you, and I was sorry that he had the nerve to speak for all of Northern New Mexico. While I agree with him on the Northern New Mexico issues (e.g. land and water rights, re-owning our language, etc.,.), I do believe that he was taking a lot of poetic justicia into his hands to speak for all of us from Northern New Mexico.

Alma, let me re-assure you that there are some free-thinking individuals, like myself, who are tired of what comes down to control of women and their bodies by, mainly, the church and men. The Catholic church, controlled by men, has controlled the women's bodies and women's thoughts for too many centuries. My mother knew what she was doing when she told her little girls to never be dependent upon a man, especially the pope.

Don't get me wrong, I am very proud of where I come from.

Yet, I have struggled, and still struggle, to define myself outside of what my culture, my family, and our greater society expect of me as a latina/female.

Therefore, your piece speaks to me in so many meaningful ways. I recognize the defiant gaze of your Guadalupe. I value the proud depiction of a morena y su cuerpo latino como el mio.Since this millennium, 2001 - 3001, is the millennium of the woman, I say "¡Basta Ya!" to male control! Let us mujeres determine what we want from the world. Actively own our bodies, our spirits, and our paths through this world. Rather than, with a down-cast eye, continue to be corralled like cattle.

As shocking as Manet's 'Ophelia' was to 1880 Parisian salon society, because she gazed right at the viewer, self-owning and aware of the gaze (primarily male gaze), your Guadalupe equally owns - as well as defines- herself and her space.


So, I just want to say, that as mujer from Northern New Mexico, you've got my vote. And I hope your digital "Our Lady" gets a lot of circulation.

By the way, do you sell copies of this print?

Mil gracias por su trabajo.
Yolanda Rael